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‘Kids would come up to me and call me dirty monkey’ -Limerick students hope documentary will ‘amplify Black voices in Ireland’

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Sandrine Uwase Ndahiro

Sandrine Uwase Ndahiro

Sandrine Uwase Ndahiro

Two women from Africa, who are studying in the University of Limerick, are aiming to “amplify Black voices in Ireland” with a documentary project that highlights racism in the country.

A total of 20 personal testimonies are showcased in the Unsilencing Black Voices Documentary, created by Contemporary African Literature PhD student Sandrine Ndahiro and fifth year architecture student Cathy Osikoya, who are from Rwanda and Nigeria respectively.

After the death of George Floyd in the US, the two women decided to raise awareness of racism in Ireland and issued a plea on social media for those interested in taking part in a documentary to send a voice note or a one minute long clip discussing their own experiences.

The creators themselves have experienced racism and Ms Osikoya recalls how her first memory of racism was while she was in secondary school.

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Cathy Osikoyo

Cathy Osikoyo

Cathy Osikoyo

“There were kids that would come up to me and call me ‘dirty monkey’. ‘You should go wash yourself’. ‘You smell’,” she said.

In the documentary, a Mayo native who now lives in Limerick says that she is tired of being praised on her ability to speak English.

“We as black people are tired, tired of being complimented on how well we speak English. Even though a lot of us have been here all our lives.”

Testimonies come from Limerick, Mayo, Galway, Carlow and Kilkenny and are divided into five categories - primary, secondary, third level, professional and daily life.

“The categories were created to show how some Black individuals experience racism from as early as primary school, and this continues, it never stops as it seeps its way from generation to generation. There is an ignorance that racism happens in isolated moments, but our documentary would debunk this ignorance,” Ms Ndahiro said.

“We hope that by watching our documentary you stop and actively listen to the pain in the black individuals who are sharing their stories,” she added.

It will be released for free viewing on Friday, August 7 and will be available on Youtube.

Online Editors